Italian-American Food

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Italian-Americans, a breed apart, we have our own culture, rituals, traditions, our own style, and language, especially in Brooklyn, Da Bronx, South Philly, and Jersey, Soprano Territory, as well as Boston’s Italian neighborhood, The East End. We love family, music, Pavorotti, Sinatra, Dino (Dean Martin), Frankie Valli, Jerry Vale and Al di La. Our culture, yes all the great music and recordings of recording artists like Mario Lanza and Louie Prima. We have great writers like Mario Puzo and Gay Talese, with Film Directors; Martin Scorsese of Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino fame which he collaborated with Nick Peliggi, and the great Francis Ford Coppola of Godfather and notable wine fame as well. And speaking of wine fame in America, The World, and of Italian-Americans, let’s not forget Robert Mondavi who almost single handily put American Wine on the map as concerns the prestige of American Wine from average to among the greatest in the World.

   Italian-America has had its share of great Boxers in those two Rocky guys; Rocky Graziano and Rocky Marciano. There was Ray “Boom-Boom” Mancini, and The Raging Bull himself, Jake La Motta, and speaking of Rocky’s, there was that other Rocky Guy of Philadelphia, one Rocky Balboa The Italian Stallion created and played to beautiful perfection by an Italian Stallion from Hells Kitchen, New York, one Sylvester Stallone.

   And Ball-Players you ask? The Baseball Hall of Fame is filled with great Italian-American ball players like; the Holy Cannoli Guy, Phil Rizzutto, Yogi Berra, and the great Joe D, The Yankee Clipper “Joltin Joe DiMaggio.”

   On the gridiron we had one of the Biggest All Time Greatest in the spectrum of football, Vince Lombardi of Englewood New Jersey. So great that The Super Bowl Trophy is named after him.

     Wow, a lot of these great Italian-Americans are from New York and New Jersey. Quite interesting. Who are they? The list is pretty long. Ready? Of course the list starts with the greatest and most beloved Italian-American of all, Frank, yes Frank Sinatra, a legend who is not, but is close to being almost “God-Like,” that’s how esteemed, loved, admired, and respected this man was, and still is. He’s revered to the highest degree possible. Yes, Frank Sinatra born and bred in Hoboken, New Jersey, then buying his first home in Hasbrouk Heights, New Jersey, his first wife Nancy was from Lodi, and all of Frank’s 3 children, Frank Jr., Nancy, and Tina were all born in Jersey before Frank moved out west to Hollywood, California before settling in Palm Spring. But once a Jersey Boy “Always A Jersey Boy.”

   Gay Talese, Joe Pesci, Frederico Casteluccio, Frank Vincent, Connie Francis, Danny DeVito and Cousin Jack, who is half Italian, John Jack Nicholson that is, born in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, New York and grew up in Neptune, New Jersey near cousin (Cugino) Danny. So Jack is both a New Yorker and Jerseyite, just like me. So you’ve also got John Travolta from Englewood Cliffs and Frankie Valli from Newark, New Jersey.

   Now, how bout the New Yorkers? The list is long; but I’ll give you the short-list; Al Pacino (Da Bronx), Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorsese (Elizabeth Street), Dion Dimucci (Bronx), Tony Bennett, also known as Anthony Bennedetto from Astoria Queens, Jake LaMotta (Bronx), Rocky Grazianno of the Lower East Side, and?

   So as we know the Italians love their music, Amore, nice clothes (Italians wrote the book on Style), rituals, this-that-and-every-other-thing. Yes, but thee greatest, most beloved and of greatest importance of all these things we love and do, nothing is more important than Food, after family and good health that is. Yes important as music is, and Amore, food is number one.


Excerted from SUNDAY SAUCE   by Daniel Bellino Z



Sunday Sauce

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“It’s Really Italian” !!!

For years now, many so called food Experts who thought they knew more than they actually did wrote disdainfully of the famed Italian dish Spaghetti & Meatballs, saying “it was not authentic Italian food,” and is Psuedo Italian. Well, “oh Contraire.” Guess what? Spaghetti & Meatballs is Italian. Or should I say Pasta & Metaballs. Yes, pasta with meatballs is a dish eaten quite often in southern Italy and the regions of Puglia, Sicily, and Abruuzo, a native dish is Pasta, (usually short Maccheroni) dressed with Meatballs as a special treat .. The names pf these dishes are called Pasta Seduta, meaning Seated Pasta and Maccaroni Azzese .. Yes Pasta w/ Meatballs, “It’s really Italian.”   I myself have written about this in my book SUNDAY SAUCE -When Italian-Americans Cook, where I stated at the time that I had hear of certain areas serving Meatballs along with their pasta. And even before I heard this I surmised that out of so many millions of poor Italians over the years it was most certain that in poor familys not wanting to wash more than 1 dish per person eating that momma would not serve pasta and meatballs in seperate courses but together on one plate of Pasta & Meatballs (Spagetti Meatballs). And so as stated before Pasta with Meatballs is an authentic dish served all over Southern Italy, it’s reall Italian Food and has names for it, again Pasta Seduta and Maccheroni Azzese .. So there, “In your face Food Snobs,” snubbing our beloved Spaghetti & Meatballs, no it’s not just Italian-American, which is not a bad thing, it’s really Real italian and the mystery and controversy is now setted, it’s Spaghetti & Meatballs, millions love it, and billions of plates have been served over the years. Why? People love it, as simple as that ..

LASAGNA CARNEVALE alla NAPOLETANA Has Little Meatballs Inside

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Mangia Bene !!!

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Sicilian American Wedding Dinner

Pasta Seduta from Puglia
 are Ziti (Zite) Baked with Meatballs & Mozzarella
In Sicily Zite used to be the Riguer at Weddings Maccarrune di Zita was served with stew pork or Meatballs and was made in large quanities as it was the tradition to bring a hearty plate of pasta as a gift to neighbors both rich and poor. Today in Sicily the word Zite means Bride. Maccheroni di Zita got its name from its role in wedding banquets, the name meant Maccheroni della Sposa, “of the Bride.” A little before my time, most Italian-American Weddings were helf in family homes at local club or in a church basement or similar circumstance and the food was made by friends and family and not a caterer. By the time I was a child often at birthday parties, baby christenings or wedding rehersals, the family would make it’s own food for the event and not have it catered. And I remember at all these Christneing and what-not, the spread of food was usually Mixed Antipasto Platters and trays of Eggplant Parmigiano and Baked Ziti, along with all sorts of sweet treats like Cannolis, Cookies, and cakes for the dessert course.
Ah, “the Good Old Day,” those dishes cooked by my Aunts Helen and Fran along with my Uncle Tony who was quite a good cook as weel, were better than any catered wedding or other party I’ve ever been to. No comparison. Basta !
When Italian-Americans Cook

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Chicken Parmigiano, along with it’s Veal counterpart Veal Parmigiano is Italian-American to the core. Created by Italian Americans in America, it is a dish greatly loved by not only Italian-Americans, but by millions of Americans of every ethnic background imaginable. It is a dish that is hugely popular, and along with Spaghetti & Meatballs, and Veal Parmigiano, 100s of Millions of dishes of each have been served over the years.

   Chicken Parmigiano, or as many know it Chicken Parmesan, or Chicken Parm is mostly sold in rest-aurants. It’s a wonder the dish isn’t made at home more often. It’s quite easy to make, especially if you already have some tomato sauce on hand, which is required in making the dish. And once you know how to make Chicken Parmigiano, which again is pretty simple, you will also then be able to make Veal Parmigiano, which is made exactly the same way, just substituting Veal for the Chicken.

   I myself prefer Chicken Parmigiano to Veal Parm, and it’s cheaper to boot. One alternative if you are thinking about having Veal Parmigiano but don’t want to pay the high price for the Veal is to make it with pork cutlets. The pork is much cheaper than the veal, and to me it’s even tastier.

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   The Meatball Parm Sandwich, as stated earlier, the Meatball Parm is one of thee Italian-American males most treasured things in life. These are things he needs to live a happy, normal, satisfying life, and an actual necessity for true Happiness. The Meatball Parm is a major part of his happiness. It’s right up there with Mom, Grandma, Sausages, and Sunday Sauce. “We ask not for much.”

   No you do not have to be a Man or a Boy to eat one. Ladies and Girls eat them as well, it’s just that the male of the species happens to eat 5 times the amount that Italian-American women do. Not only that, but the male of the species holds Meatballs and Meatball Parms in much Greater Reverence, than do the females. They “Exalt” it, as the Meatball Parm, it deserves such adulation. The men and boys adore it and get quite excited at the prospect and act of eating one, the “Meatball Parm.” And the ladies who make them, know how much their boys love it, and even cherish it, this thing called the Meatball Parm.

   Yes Italian-American ladies and girls like Meatball Parms too, but they don’t get quite as excited about this sandwich as do the Men & Boys. You see, Meatball Parms are held quite dear to Italian men. Yes, it’s a guy thing, and more specifically, an Italian Guy Thing. Yes, Italian-American males have given the Meatball Parm Iconic Status within our lives and realm of food. Why? We’re Italian, that’s all.

     The Great Ritual of the Meatball Parm Monday and as it ties to Sunday Sauce Gravy. You make the Meatballs for the Sauce, aka Gravy. On Saturday you will buy all the meat; Ground Beef & Pork, the Sausages and the rest of the ingredients for your Sunday Sauce to be made on Sunday. However, on Saturday you are already thinking about those Meatball Parms for Monday’s lunch.

   Yes Meatball Parms on Monday, following the previous days Sunday Gravy. You see, you have to think ahead. Every good Italian knows that when you go through all the effort and time it will take to make a pot of Sunday Sauce, that you don’t just make it for Sunday’s consumption alone. No, that would be a waste of time to make just enough to eat on Sunday. It takes time, effort, energy, and work to make a Sunday Sauce, which of course is well worth it. You do not mind the work involved at all, for in the end, the “Rewards are Great,” as a Sunday Sauce will yield, the beloved Sausages, Gravy, Braciole, succulent Ribs, and Meatballs for Monday’s Meatball Parms.

   And as it does not really take much more time to make a larger quantity in order to have leftovers for the next day or two, and this is just what one wants to do, is to keep the sauce going, and going for another day, even two. And in those leftovers are the much Prized Meatballs for Monday’s Lunch of the Meatball Parm Sandwiches. Yes, the men love and need Meatball Parms on Monday, for the Ritual of the Meatball Parms of Monday is “Time-Honored” and enjoyed by many. As the saying goes, “The Simple Pleasure of Life,” here it is quite apropos.

   So, you see, on Saturday when one goes to buy the ingredients to make the Gravy, they automatically know to make sure they get enough ground meat to make plenty of Meatballs that will last the Sunday Supper as well as yielding numerous leftover Meat-balls for Monday’s Meatball Parms. Yes the men, methodically make sure that there are enough leftovers for Monday’s lunch. When all are finished eating the great “Sauce” on Sunday, they set some Meatballs aside for the next days Meatball Sandwiches. These sandwiches will make any dreaded Monday so much better, this is for-sure.

   And if there are leftover Sausages? On Tuesday one can make Spaghetti with Sauce and Sausages, or even a Sausage Sandwich. Think ahead boys and girls, think of Monday and your Meatball Parm.


Excerted from SUNDAY SAUCE   by Daniel Bellino Zwicke








by Danny Bolognese

The GREATEST PIECE Ever Written on the Food of Italian-America

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